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Thread: 7,3,9?

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Maybe I'm just forgetting. Or maybe it's because I hate reading too much to read "Letters". Anyway, does anyone know what is the significance of the specific numbers: 7 dwarves, 3 elves, and 9 men? Why did Tolkien decide on these numbers, instead of, for instance: 2 dwarves, 5 elves, and 11 men? Or something else equally arbitrary (as it seems to me)? Did he just use a random number generator between 1 and 10?
all I know is that men got the most rings because the desire power more than the others
I'm wondering if those numbers have a significance in certain cultures. Three is somewhat sacred in Celtic belief signifying the three elements of air, water and earth (or is it fire?). Four is significant to Native Americans standing for the four directions but I don't know about seven and nine.
Well, take the number 3 first, the number three can be refered as a trio, trinity, trilogy, triad, trine etc. The religious belief of some certain religions use the trinity to describe God(s) that are all individual yet the one combined, Father, Son and Holy Spirit/Ghost. I remember some examples off the top of my head the trilogies that have the same sort of purpose as the above; Spirit, Mind and Body, along with Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, and from looking at the examples including the religious side, it seems that the number 3 could stand for the fundementals of life, things required for survival. So, maybe the 3 used by Tolkien, would be to symbolize requirements for life and power used as in the three Great Rings, Nenya, Vilya and Narya. Or it could be that it just sounds better (as we already have the one ring) Elf With a Big Grin Smilie

I think the 7 is quite obvious, as that is the number of heavenly completion, as the earthly completion number is 10 (10/10). That would be where there are 7 female Valar and 7 male Valar ("heavenly beings", if you can call them that, although Melkor is the odd one out, as he was kicked out of the gang for not being cool)

I remember reading somewhere that the number 9 is for symbolizing re-birth, but I'm not into all these symbols using planets etc, just doesn't interest me. But, the nine Nazgúl died and were all "brought back" like a re-birth to do the will of Sauron. The fellowship were formed so as to counter the "re-birth" and make an equal stand against them. So they were "re-birthed" themselves into the fellowship.

But this is all what I don't know completely, but I think that some points make some logical sense Orc Smiling Smilie
The number seven for the total of Dwarf fathers and their rings was influenced by Walt Disney and his movie from the same year, not to mention the original faery tale from ages before.
Quote:
Anyway, does anyone know what is the significance of the specific numbers: 7 dwarves, 3 elves, and 9 men?

There were seven Dwarven lords, 3 Elven Kings and 9 Great Kings of Men. Hence, Gwaith-i-Mírdain in Ost-in-Edhil made seven rings for the Dwarves, three for the Elves and nine for Men.

That's all. No deeper meaning behind it. Sometimes a cigar is just a banana.
The 'nineteen' were all Elven-rings, of which the Three were supreme.

The 'sixteen' were later given to other races by Sauron, after he took them by force (though the Dwarves say one of the 'Seven' was given to them by the Elves). The Mírdain did not set out to make a certain number of Rings for each race; the 'numbering' came about as a result of Sauron (though he never touched the Three of course).
You sure do get around, Galin!

Anyway, we learn in RC:83-4 that "In the earliest complete version of the Ringverse there are nine Rings 'for the Elven-kings under moon and star' and three 'for Mortal Men that wander far' (RS:269, no.14). Another had twelve Rings for Men, nine for the Dwarves, and three for the Elves. The numbers and powers of the Rings varied as the story developed." (My emphasis) "The term Elven-kings seems to be merely poetic; later in this chapter Gandalf refers, more appropriately, to 'the Elf-lords', i.e. the leaders of the Elves in Middle-earth."

So I think there isn't any number symbolism here, though you can start ruminating about the divine properties of the number Three, combined with the number of elements (Four) to make Twelve; and of course Seven and Thirteen have been closely linked with Dwarves in Tolkien's legendarium (Seven Fathers and Thirteen original Dwarves (six each with their female counterpart, and Durin who "walked alone").
Hail again Tyrhael

I'll add an interesting letter in which Tolkien responded: 'There is no 'symbolism' or conscious allegory in my story. Allegory of that sort 'five wizards = five senses' is wholly foreign to my way of thinking. There were five wizards and that is just a unique part of history.' JRRT 1957 Letters

Make of that what you (anyone) will. This letter then moves to 'applicability' Happy Elf Smilie
If the Professor himself says there's no symbolism then I, for one, will take it as set in stone Smile Smilie